Vince Johnson, The Garage Door Doctor (Highly Recommend)

Posted on November 28th, 2003 in Houston by mynagirl

Garage Door Doctor

Vince Johnson

Repair Specialist

New Installation

Openers

281-578-7659

Houston, TX

I always like to give local people and places props on our website when I can, and I’m long overdue to put some good words about the Garage Door Doctor up here.

Our mid-80’s Heights garden house (think townhouse, but with no shared walls and an apron of land) is a cute almost-Victorian affair, with wood siding, fishscale details, and lots of white trim. When we bought the house, it included some very heavy custom-made wooden garage doors, which steadily deteriorated in the moist Houston humidity (so has the wood siding, but replacing it is a task for another time). Finally it got to the point that Scott wouldn’t let me walk under the doors while they were moving for fear they might finally disintegrate and fall on my head.

We finally called the Garage Door Doctor at the recommendation of our friend Bruce, and boy was I glad that we did. He scheduled himself to come out within a few days, for an afternoon (mornings, he told me, were reserved for all the ‘my garage door fell down on my car’ emergency fix calls he inevitably got each day). On the scheduled afternoon, he called me at the promised time, swung by our house to measure the doors (good thing, too, as he discovered that they were a weird custom size), and told me he’d be done by the end of the day. I left him in charge of the garage and took advantage of already being off work to go run business-hour-only errands.

By the end of the day, he’d magically transformed our sad dilapidated garage doors into two beautiful new metal ones with brand-new tracks and springs that even had a safety cable (so the springs don’t fly wildly if they break), integrated with our old garage door openers. He even transferred our custom barrel-lock disabler cable, that allows us to get in with a key if the power’s out. He did a great job, even sweeping up when our old garage door did indeed disintegrate into bits as he took it off the rails. The work was fabulous, fast, and well worth the price. He charged $695 for the whole deal — the new doors, installation, and hauling away those nasty heavy wooden doors for us.

If you need new garage doors or any work done on ones you already have, I recommend the Garage Door Doctor.

Bubba Ho-tep (***½)

Posted on November 27th, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

The existence of this movie fills me with happiness and awe at the creative audacity of the human race. If you don’t know anything about this movie (although I’m not sure how you would find this review otherwise), and you have an open mind about movies, I urge you to stop reading and go see it before reading any further.

Go on, go.

When I ask if you have an open mind about movies, what I mean is can you set aside preconceptions about what movies should be and just experience what’s on the screen in the spirit in which it is given? Roger Ebert summed it up best in his review of this film, in which he said that to enjoy this film you have to not so much care what it is about, but you must care HOW it is about what it is about. Bubba Ho-tep is an amazing transference of an artistic vision to the screen, without care for the marketability of the story and without compromises to please the multiplex masses. In fact, this film doesn’t even have a proper distributor, so there’s almost zero advertising, it’s only playing in a few theaters, and will certainly not get the recognition (or box office) that it deserves.

So go on, go see it.

I’m warning you, I’m about to talk about the plot, and if you don’t already know the plot you shouldn’t read any further. In any case you should go see it. And if you’ve already seen it, go see it again, just so Hollywood can see that it has horrible taste in picking which movies deserve distribution and promotion (uh, Gigli? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? In the Cut?) and which don’t. Mind you, this isn’t Shakespeare, but it sure isn’t the dreck that Hollywood keeps excreting for the mindless herds, either. So thumb your nose at factory filmmaking, reward those involved with this unique near-classic, and be part of the grass-roots movement to show the so-called entertainment industry that you are not a mindless horde-member, but are instead a discriminating consumer who can appreciate a film like this.

Last chance, the next paragraph talks about the plot. Really, it does. Okay, you’ve been warned.

Bubba Ho-tep starts with an outrageous premise…well, three Outrageous Premises, actually. Outrageous Premise number one is that Elvis Presley is still alive and living in an East Texas nursing home. You see, at the height of his career he got fed up with all the glitz, glamour, fame, money, sex, and drugs and decided to switch places with an Elvis impersonator. Unfortunately for Elvis, the contract he had with the impersonator burned up (in a trailer park fire), Elvis (who was touring as an Elvis impersonator) fell off the stage, broke his hip, and ended up in a temporary coma, and the Elvis impersonator died. So now Elvis (the real Elvis) is living out the rest of his years in ill health, obscurity, loneliness, and regret.

Outrageous Premise number two is that another resident of the nursing

Heights Spa (***½)

Posted on November 27th, 2003 in Mynagirl by mynagirl

The Heights Spa

440 W 19th St

Houston, TX 77008

(713) 864-8088

The ambitiously titled Heights Spa is really still just a nail shop, but it’s a nice one. And so far, it’s worth its slightly higher price versus its assembly-line acrylic competitors. The shop is on 19th, in the new section of strip shopping centers just a few blocks west of Yale & all the antiques shops. It tries (and succeeds) for a calm ambiance — the smallish space feels cozy and serene, with curving walls, all indirect lighting, and soothing sage and earth tones throughout.

Their services include manicures, pedicures, facials, and waxing, but I’ve only done the manicure/pedicure route there so far. The shop, although small, is already expanding into the space next door to accomodate its healthy business. Their ‘spa pedicure’ is a little more expensive than other spots (about $40) but it’s worth it: sea salt scrub-down, mint mask, and lots of massage with lotions and oils — all from the very comfy heated and massaging princess pedicure pedestal chair. Their solar nail acrylic refills take longer than at other shops, but for good reason. Their pink and white refills are very precise and even, with a smooth arc of white at the tip. And they take the time to really shape the acrylic all the way back on your nail without grinding your cuticles into a bloody mess. They’re so careful and delicate; I’ve never had ONE slice from the Razor Nail Board of Death so common at other shops.

For the foreseeable future, The Heights Spa will be my new nail shop of choice — decadent pedicures, super careful solar nails, and so close to home. If you’re in this part of the city and you want a salon-quality manicure/pedicure with the convenience of a drop-in nail shop, this is the place for you.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (***¼)

Posted on November 16th, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

This excellent swashbuckler borders on being an epic, but actually doesn’t try to be. It tells a medium-sized story (not big, not small) about a particular ship of the British Navy (during the Napoleonic Wars) on a particular mission (to sink or capture a bigger, faster French ship). It tells this story very, very well. The British ship, the Surprise, is chasing the French ship, the Acheron, down the Atlantic side of South America, around the Cape, and back up the Pacific side. The Surprise is smaller and slower, with fewer guns, fewer men, and a thinner hull. The Acheron is bigger, faster, has twice as many men and guns, and has a hull that seems impenetrable by British cannon fire.

The captains seem equally matched from a naval tactics perspective. Much like the crew of the Surprise, we don’t get to see or know the French crew except as a cunning and dangerous enemy, a chimera that hunts us and haunts us with equal effectiveness. The captain of the Surprise is Lucky Jack Aubrey, played with complete authority and believability by Russell Crowe. Captain Aubrey is tough but fair, and has (and deserves) the unquestioning respect and loyalty of his crew. Dr. Stephen Maturin, played by Paul Bettany, is the ship’s surgeon. He’s a skillful doctor, but his true calling is that he is a naturalist, and joined the Navy simply because it would take him around the world to see unrecorded new creature and species.

Aubrey and Maturin are long-time friends, and frequently spend evenings together in the captain’s cabin practicing music. This actually works within the story, and does not seem as stilted or affected as it sounds writing it. Their practice seems to flow naturally as part of the British Naval tradition of preserving culture and manners within the ranks of serving officers. We see the officers drinking tea from china cups as they fight raging seas or await the start of a battle, and it does not seem effete or incongruous, and in fact feels the way I presume it was designed to feel, which is that it brings a touch of normality and the familiarity of home to the strange society that is a warship halfway around the world.

The movie itself is nearly flawless. To put this review into perspective, I fully expected to hate this film. I don’t have any special affinity for historical or military stories, I have a love/hate relationship with Russell Crowe (grudgingly love most of his performances, tend to dislike what I can glean about him as a person), and the previews and trailers for this film were nothing but fodder for jokes and derision, as the film, quite frankly, just looked ridiculous to me. Pile on top of that the overlong and overblown title, and I knew this one was a “must miss” for me.

But I kept hearing very good things. And not from paid mouthpieces, but from my usual, trusted sources. So I set aside my skepticism and we

King Biscuit Restaurant – Mediocre

Posted on November 14th, 2003 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

King Biscuit
1606 White Oak Dr
Houston, TX 77009
Phone: (713) 861-2328

The King Biscuit restaurant is tucked back in an old Houston Heights neighborhood along White Oak bayou. The menu is fairly extensive, including soups, salads, hamburgers, sandwiches, seafood, steaks, pork chops, etc, and the ambience is sort of kitschy-Heights. The building appears to have grown organically from an old gas station, and is tucked into a V in the road. There is almost zero designated parking, so you usually have to park on the streets of the surrounding neighborhood. There is a nice patio with a good view of the bayou, but it is usually infested with hard-core smokers making anything you eat out there taste like you’re licking it out of a used ashtray.

We have not been impressed with the food quality on our last couple of visits, and while the food isn’t terrible, it’s really nothing special. So, given the wide variety of excellent eats in Houston, I think King Biscuit is going to drop out of our restaurant rotation, at least for a while. A few years ago the food was noticeably better, and we hope that the quality starts to improve again, as we like this place and want it to be good.

In the Cut (*)

Posted on November 8th, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

Oh, man, did this movie suck. Directed and co-written by Jane Campion, it stars Meg Ryan in her birthday suit for the first time on film. We went hoping to see an erotic thriller, and we’re still hoping. Yes, Ms. Ryan does bare it all, but it was completely (to me) un-erotic…in fact, it was de-rotic. And there’s nothing thrilling or mysterious, other than the mystery of how long they can drag out the lame story, or the mystery of how many men that Meg Ryan’s character thinks is a psychotic killer will she be aroused by and sleep with over and over and over and over again. The only “ic” that this movie is is idiotic, and it is that in spades. Here are some examples:

Example #1: At the beginning of the movie Frannie (Meg Ryan’s character), a high school English teacher, meets one of her students at a bar to discuss a paper he’s writing (a bar?). She heads down the dark, dingy back stairs of the seedy bar towards the restroom, and sees a man with a very unique and distinguishing tattoo being…serviced (ahem)…by a young lady with very unique and distinguishing blue fingernails. Later, when the decapitated head of the murder victim, who just happens to be the same young lady with the blue fingernails, is found beneath Frannie’s bedroom window in her garden, the cop who shows up has the same distinguishing tattoo as the guy from the bar. Frannie’s reaction to this? Sleep with him.

Example #2: When Frannie is unsure of her relationship with the cop, she seeks out the advice of her sister. Her sister recommends that she continue sleeping with the cop, which Frannie does. Frannie’s sister’s advice is trustworthy to Frannie, even though in her own personal life the sister is stalking some poor doctor, stealing the doctor’s wife’s clothes from the dry cleaner, and her biggest worry is what to wear to court when they slap her with a restraining order. Oh, and she lives in an apartment directly above a strip club, and appears to be sort of a den-mother to the dancers, running a sort of empowered-naked-women’s day care center, or something like that, where the strippers leave their babies while they go out front and grind for the customers. Heartwarming.

Example #3: The student from the bar, an obviously troubled young man who is writing a paper (in blood) defending notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy as a misunderstood nice guy who loved his victims, also flirts with Frannie in that street-tough fashion of youth. Later in the story, after Frannie has discovered the body of her violently murdered sister and sat on the floor with her sister’s disembodied head in a plastic shopping bag in her lap until the police show up and pry it from her hands, Frannie promptly goes home, finds her young student waiting for her, and takes him upstairs and proceeds to make out with him. That’s a perfectly normal reaction, wouldn’t you